The National Motor Freight Classification® (NMFC®) is a standard that provides the freight class as a comparison of commodities moving in interstate, intrastate and foreign commerce. It is similar in concept to the groupings or grading systems that serve many other industries. Commodities are grouped into one of 18 classes—from a low of class 50 to a high of class 500—based on an evaluation of four transportation characteristics: density, handling, stowability and liability. Together, these characteristics establish a commodity’s “transportability.”
Shipping is just one part of running your small business, so you need to keep it simple. Yet necessary tasks like determining your shipment’s classification number used to be difficult and time-consuming. If you ship pallets via inland transportation companies, then you know that you have to provide the freight classification number.
Why knowing your freight classification important
In most cases, an LTL freight shipment is identified by a classification number. This number indicates the type of product in the shipment and affects not only carrying charges but also the overall shipping process.
What Factors Go into Determining Freight Class?
Before you determine your freight class for your shipment, you must identify certain factors about your specific freight. Freight class is based on weight, length and height, density, ease of handling, value and liability from things like theft, damage, break-ability and spoilage.. The definitions for each are as follows:
- (Weight, Length, Height) Density and Value: Density guidelines assign classification 50 to freight that weighs 50 pounds per cubic foot. The Commodity Classification Standards Board (CCSB) assigns classifications 70, 92.5, 175 and 400 to freight with densities of 15, 10.5, 5, and 1 pound per cubic foot, respectively. Freight less dense than 1 pound per cubic foot is classified as 500. The density is the space the item occupies in relation to its weight. The density is calculated by dividing the weight of the item in pounds by its volume in cubic feet. Your item’s volume in cubic feet is Length x Width x Height/1,728, where all dimensions are measured in inches. The density of your item = Weight/Volume, where Weight is measured in pounds and Volume is measured in cubic feet.
- Stow-ability: Most freight stows well in trucks, trains and boats, but some articles are regulated by the government or carrier policies. Some items cannot be loaded together. Hazardous materials are transported in specific manners. Excessive weight, length or protrusions can make freight impossible to load with other freight. The absence of load-bearing surfaces makes freight impossible to stack. A quantifiable stow-ability classification represents the difficulty in loading and carrying these items.
- Handling: Most freight is loaded with mechanical equipment and poses no handling difficulties, but some freight, due to weight, shape, fragility or hazardous properties, requires special attention. A classification that represents ease or difficulty of loading and carrying the freight is assigned to the items.
- Liability: Liability is probability of freight theft or damage, or damage to adjacent freight. Perishable cargo or cargo prone to spontaneous combustion or explosion is classified based on liability and assigned a value per pound, which is a fraction of the carrier’s liability. When classification is based on liability, density must also be considered.
What are the 18 Different Types of Freight Class?
|Class Name||Cost||Notes, Examples||Weight Range Per Cubic Foot|
|Lowest Cost||Fits on standard shrink-wrapped 4X4 pallet, very durable||over 50 lbs|
|Class 55||Bricks, cement, mortar, hardwood flooring||35-50 pounds|
|Class 60||Car accessories & car parts||30-35 pounds|
|Class 65||Car accessories & car parts, bottled beverages, books in boxes||22.5-30 pounds|
|Class 70||Car accessories & car parts, food items, automobile engines||15 to 22.5 pounds|
|Class 77.5||Tires, bathroom fixtures||13.5 to 15 pounds|
|Class 85||Crated machinery, cast iron stoves||12-13.5 pounds|
|Class 92.5||Computers, monitors, refridgerators||10.5-12 pounds|
|Class 100||boat covers, car covers, canvase, wine cases, caskets||9-10.5 pounds|
|Class 110||cabinets, framed artwork, tablesaw||8-9 pounds|
|Class 125||Small Household appliances||7-8 pounds|
|Class 150||Auto sheetmetal parts, bookcases,||6-7 pounds|
|Class 175||Clothing, couches stuffed furniture||5-6 pounds|
|Class 200||Auto sheetmetal parts, aircraft parts, aluminum table, packaged matresses,||4-5 pounds|
|Class 250||Bamboo furniture, mattress and boxspring, plasma tv||3-4 pounds|
|Class 300||wood cabinets, tables, chairs setup, model boats||2-3 pounds|
|Class 400||Deer antlers||1-2 pounds|
|Class 500 – Low Density or High Value||Highest Cost||Bags of gold dust, ping pong balls||Less than 1 lbs|
Many companies choose the lowest freight classification in order to save on the freight charges. These practices could yield adverse results. Most of the time, the freight company will discover the misclassification. The end result is not pleasant.